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CO: Qwest renews bid for franchise deals

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Created 05/03/2007 - 7:23am

from: Denver Post [1]

Qwest renews bid for franchise deals
The firm will negotiate to provide television services in 12 Colorado cities to compete with Comcast.

By Kimberly S. Johnson and Steve McMillan
Denver Post Staff Writers
Article Last Updated: 05/03/2007 02:39:57 AM MDT

Qwest plans to relaunch its efforts to reach video-franchise agreements with a dozen Colorado cities in the next couple of months, the company's state president said Wednesday.

Most of the cities will be in the Denver metro area, but Colorado Springs also will likely be part of Qwest's renewed effort to provide television services, said Qwest's Colorado president Chuck Ward.

The move comes on the heels of a new Federal Communications Commission order that goes into effect in July and gives companies such as Denver- based Qwest the right to force cities to make a decision on a video-franchise proposal within 90 days.

"We've got an opportunity to negotiate," Ward said. "But at some point we can formally initiate a clock."

That order is being appealed in court by six organizations, including the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties.

Comcast, the state's largest cable provider, said it would not try to stop Qwest from gaining local franchise agreements, but continued to stress the importance of offering services to all parts of a local community. Qwest has said it doesn't want to be forced into a video buildout schedule by cities.

"Comcast will put our products and services up against any competitor," spokeswoman Cindy Parsons said. "Qwest simply must make its services available to every household in those areas it serves."

Bill Myers, Qwest's director of public policy and state affairs, said the FCC order won't be used as a sledge hammer.

"We're not going to willy- nilly start putting cities on the shot clock," he said, noting that the order could be invoked if negotiations drag on or break down.

Ward also said that Qwest, which provides telephone service to 14 Western and Midwestern states, won't rule out taking another run at getting a statewide franchising bill passed.

Prior to the FCC order, Qwest aggressively lobbied for statewide franchise agreements in several states. The Colorado legislature this year shot down such a bill, which would have allowed Qwest to bypass cities and just negotiate with the state.

Among the cities that Qwest has talked with about offering television service to compete with cable companies are Broomfield, Arvada, Colorado Springs, Denver and Littleton.

Telecommunication companies such as Qwest, AT&T and Verizon are entering the lucrative pay-TV market with the ability to package their existing phone and high-speed Internet services with television.

Cable TV firms, in turn, have rolled out digital phone service over high-speed lines and are offering "triple plays," stealing customers from the telecoms.

To stem the tide of consumers giving away their traditional land-line phones, the telecoms have partnered with satellite providers such as EchoStar and DirecTV to offer television services. But such partnerships are not as lucrative for telecoms as providing the TV service themselves.

Staff writer Kimberly S. Johnson can be reached at 303-954-1088 or

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